STH Q1 2021 Update A Letter from the Editor

3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable Platinum 8380H And Gold 6258R 1
3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable Platinum 8380H And Gold 6258R 1

We started the tradition of “A Letter from the Editor” in 2019. It has become one of my favorite articles to write every quarter. The reviews and content you see on STH are only 15-20% of the work involved with the site. This quarterly series is my opportunity to share a bit about why and how STH is evolving. We are currently in a period which is the “calm before the storm” where we are about to launch a few big projects that we have been working on for 2-3 months. Some of our readers may have noticed this, others may not have. I wanted to give an update on the behind-the-scenes at STH.

Previous Updates

If you want to check out how this series has evolved, here are the links to the first five:

This update marks the ninth installment of the series.

STH Q1 2021 Behind the Scenes

I wanted to break down the Q1 2021 behind-the-scenes look into what went well and some of the challenges we have faced.

In Q4 2020 I outlined the 2021 vision of trying to grow while being a responsible steward to the community. While many are determined to grow through consistent antagonism, we are going to take our level of responsibility up a few levels. So far this quarter we have grown about 25% Y/Y or in-line with my targets. This is especially hard since we are in the period before major new product cycles. We have also had folks who have been dealing with COVID and severe weather events leaving them without power and water.

On the responsibility front, we launched Project STH this week. Our first feature was around Jolene Begay an engineer at Intel bringing computer science to those who would not otherwise have that opportunity. This series is simply focused on inspiring others in the technology community to act and help those severely underserved by technology. As one can probably tell by the YouTube view figures this is unlikely to be the highest traffic piece on STH. Still, it is one that I find important so that is why it will continue.

From a personal perspective, the past six months have been rather rough. What had been a source of strength on the family side has been instead challenging to say the least. My general reaction to tough times is simple: try to do something good for others. I am aware that by most folks who I chat with on the personal side’s standards it has not been good, there are many people who would be envious of those challenges. Perspective is important.

As many may have noticed, over the past few weeks we have been preparing STH for what is going to be a big end of Q1 and into Q2. Getting into new server product lineup release cycles means an enormous amount of work. We are doing what we can such as showing how to install 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors using Cooper Lake, the first iteration of the new socket.

We will continue to do what we can, but as one would expect, this is a busy period. In 2019, Intel launched Cascade Lake in April and AMD launched Rome in August which afforded more time between the launches, and on a relative scale, there was less to cover.

One of the big projects is getting the first rack in a new data center. We now have racks that are Blue, Black, and White. Perhaps the theme is that we need a new color every time we add more capacity. A major reason for this is simply that power budgets for servers are going up. 2021 will see a significant, but rather modest bump. Into 2022 and 2023, we are going to see fairly massive spikes in what we are asked to test. While we can use 5kW racks today, we are going to need to be several times that by 2023. That means planning everything from facilities to how we are going to pay the power and cooling bills. I am also trying to lay the foundation towards executing future server reviews today.

Dell PowerEdge R930 Excellent Packaging
Dell PowerEdge R930 installation in our data center

What I will simply say is that we have a newsletter signup form at the end of these letters. Given the scope of what we will be publishing soon, it is certainly worthwhile to join thousands of STH readers that are already signed up.

Starting next week, we are going to have some massive projects going online across the compute, networking, and storage domains.

STH Q1 2021 Call for Action

Normally this is where I make an appeal for more writers. The Q4 2020 call for action absolutely flooded my inbox. After ~35 hours of calls with folks, we managed to see the first article published with Cameron’s SolidRun HoneyComb LX2 Server Announced 1U 2-Node Arm piece this week.

Looking to later in Q1 and into Q2 we are going to have a need to simplify a few things, so unfortunately we are going to have a quarter of freezing asking for new writers.

That does not mean I am not going to still make an ask. This quarter I have a simple one: Just do something nice for someone else.

While not a specific ask, you never know who you run into that has a lot of not great stuff they are working through.

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  1. It sounds like 2020 was a rough year for you on a personal level, Patrick. You mentioned challenges in the EOY letter as well. I wish you all the best in moving forward and good health to those around you.

    Hardware is fun, but doesn’t mean squat at the end of the day for all of us.

  2. Patrick,

    Thank you for all that you and the crew do at STH.

    I look forward to reading the various hardware articles that get published here. That’s saying a lot as there is very little else out there site wise that captures our interest versus STH.

    All the best for you and yours in this new year. I’m thinking it’s going to be a great one! 🙂


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